The Department for Education has published the updated Early Years Foundation Stage frameworks and as of 4th January 2024 the changes are now in effect. This is a result of work by the DfE aiming to allow early years settings to better utilise their workforce, helping to increase capacity ahead of the rollout of the new entitlements in April 2024. The consultation proposals were informed by extensive engagement with the sector and many of the proposed changes included in the final consultation were suggested by early years providers, including childminders, themselves. The consultation resulted in receiving 2,659 responses in total.
Alongside the consultation DfE also ran a survey of providers to understand how they might change their practice if these changes were introduced. After careful consideration of the by Ministers, DfE then set out the official government response to this consultation, which confirms which proposals have been taken forward, and which have not.
Some notable changes to the EYFS framework, that are in effect as of now, are:
- The creation of two versions of the EYFS: one for childminders and one for group and school-based providers.
- The creation of a new document setting out Early Years qualification requirements and standards.
- Removing the requirement for Level 3 practitioners to hold a Level 2 maths qualification to count within staff:child ratios and instead place this requirement on managers.
- Students and apprentices can now count in ratios at the level below their level of study if the manager believes they are competent and responsible to do so.
- Settings may provide opportunities for children to develop and use their home language in play and learning, previously this requirement stated this ‘must’ be done.
- Childminder assistants can hold the role of key person.
- Removal of the requirement for childminders to complete EYFS training before registration. Childminders will still be required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the EYFS.
Support for the sector
To support the rollout of these changes, the Department has provided a range of updates and communications, including blogs, vodcasts and online events. You can also watch the latest vodcast explaining the changes and watch the recording of the November Foundation Years Live online event. The Department want to ensure providers can operate successfully and practitioners can focus on providing children in their care with high-quality early education and have opportunities to progress their careers.
Alongside the consultation response, the Department also published an evaluation of the 2021 reforms that focused on strengthening teaching in the early years and improving outcomes for children. The independent report shows many settings and practitioners have benefitted from the changes made through the 2021 reforms, which in turn is seen to be having a positive impact on children. DfE will continue to work with the sector to ensure settings have the information and support they need to respond to any changes to the EYFS. This will continue to be promoted via the Foundation Years website, alongside resources, case studies and events, so keep checking back for more information, and sign up to the Foundation Years newsletter!